China + Japan 06/19 – Shikoku

With the important rides out of the way it was time for some general credding. The outbound flight was from Osaka, which we had been to before, so it had to be an area to the west of Japan that I hadn’t yet hit. Ended up skirting round the city and onto the island of Shikoku. Only 5 hours driving, child’s play these days.

Tokushima Family Land

Follow that ferris wheel.

The first little place was another one of those Asian ghost town parks. Part of a bigger zoo resort, but we were literally the only car in the car park on arrival.

With staff outnumbering us at least 4 to 1, bought some ride tickets and headed to the first cred. The person standing nearest to it sprang into life and started the ride up for us in a friendly fashion.

#1 Mad Mouse

More quality engineering. The manufacturer of these is unknown but it seems to be a suspiciously similar to that awful one at Fuji Q.

It rode a lot better though. Rough and ready, but no headache inducing vibration. A good laugh.

#2 Junior Roller Coaster

The other cred was boring Mr. Vekoma Junior. +1.

And that was that. On to the next one.

The road to the only other park on the island took us over some lovely mountains, at which point it decided to rain on us. On arrival, the weather had technically cleared up again, but dark clouds loomed ominously close making for a rather tense visit. This could very easily go wrong and everything will shut.

For a bigger park/resort it was equally ghost town-ish. No more than 5 cars in the car park on arrival.

New Reoma World

Took the plunge and bought the entry ticket, then bravely bought ride tickets on route, with the ever present fear of approaching rain.

#3 Vivace

First priority was the big boy. A jet coaster called Vivace. The couple of older staff members in the station were happy to see some customers.

In classic fashion for this ride type the first drop is angled at about 20 degrees, but the low turn over the water was unexpectedly forceful for one of these. Overall good fun, something a bit different.

#4 Lady Bird Coaster

This one was next.

A weird little wild mouse style ride with an interesting layout. It started to rain on us on the lift hill. Oh no.

#5 Kids Coaster

RAN round to this one as it was the last remaining outdoor cred. Worryingly the operator had just walked away from the ride but we were told to wait a couple of minutes while sheltering in the station.

It was a wet experience, but they did run it. Literally couldn’t have timed it better as the weather just got worse and worse and they closed the whole area around us immediately after. Good stuff.

#6 Spaceship 2056

Which only left this beast. The indoor coaster.
Now featuring Virtual Reality obviously, but at an additional cost. Politely declined the VR option, garnering a little confusion from the staff, but the only other guests in the park had appeared out of nowhere next to us and did exactly the same.

Waited around a while in the first part of the indoor queue where more guests magically materialised. They did want the VR and were batched into a second queue where they got an extensive set of instructions about putting them on, while one of the staff members was visibly falling asleep on his feet. Interesting to see the Japanese approach to hygiene for these is to supply a thin clinical looking mask with eye holes cut out, to go underneath the actual headset. I like that.

From there we were all led down some spacey themed corridors into a room with some screens. Had a bit of a pre-show talk, then got taken into a spacey themed lift with more pre-show talk. It was all rather cool in a low budget sort of way. Reminded me of a less physical Clone Zone.
The lift takes you to the station, where we were separated from the guests wielding their VR. Ha, they had to wait for the next train.

The ride was small but quite fun. It starts at the top and works its way downwards to the bottom lightly jolting around in the dark, like a discount Eurosat/Spatiale Experience. It ends at a separate offload station meaning riders skip the lift hill.

Fortunately there’s a sheltered seating area at the exit of the ride as it was proper chucking it down when we emerged. Sat and watched it for a good half an hour wondering how any of these places survive in this manner, while the staff walked back and forth with umbrellas smiling, waving and closing things down.

Once it got light enough to handle, we made our escape.

It’s a nice looking place with a great setting, just in the middle of nowhere with very little to do.
Needs investment, but it ain’t gonna happen.

Up next – more of the same.

Day 5

China + Japan 06/19 – Nagashima Spa Land

Day 3 – Nagashima Spa Land

Oh no, back here again. It almost feels like home.

Rocked up before opening time to find an unnervingly large queue forming outside the entrance plaza. It looked worse than it was however, as there were gates shut before the actual ticketing area.
Soon enough those gates opened and all concept of a queue quickly dissolved as people from everywhere homed in from all angles, cutting past those who had been politely waiting at least half an hour before opening. Typical Nagashima Spa Land, nothing like the rest of Japan.
Followed the hustle and bustle into the ticket booths, got a wristband fairly promptly and headed in.

#1 Hakugei

Straight to the whale.

Ah man. The early stages of this day were doing absolutely nothing to change my mind about liking this park. The operations were as dire as to be expected. A single train dispatching every 6 minutes. An average of 4 empty seats per train due to their dumb row assignment methodology. I was there in the first 200 people and it took me an hour to get on it.

Logistics – there’s a member of staff in the cattlepen area who hands out blue and red wristbands and rattles off a speech in rapid Japanese to every person. The purpose of this wristband is to get you into the locker area which is situated under the station, which you pass through both before and after the ride. Upon reaching the station you give up the wristband, basically to stop people getting off the ride and cutting through the lockers again for another go. It’s an improvement on their other rides in that it saves having locker faff within the actual station, while loading the train, but it still seems to take just as long with all the various batching procedures and airport scanners for tissues in your pockets that lead up to it.

So thankfully the ride was amazing. Enough for me to put up with all that many, many times, coupled with the fact it was the sole reason I was there in the first place. Lets see how many RMC name drops I can squeeze into a review.

It’s got one of the stronger pre-lift funky sections which are always a laugh, closest to Twisted Colossus. A big lift hill looking out at the rest of the park or over the water. A zippy little corner at the top before an up and over drop, like a third of a Wildfire. And then it begins.

It’s got length. It just goes and goes with equally good elements from start to finish, unlike Lightning Rod.
There’s some really strong airtime in there, never quite as intense as Twisted Timbers, but it’s beautiful blend of sensations between each element, more like a giant Wicked Cyclone.
The stall only felt particularly significant towards the middle of the train similar to Joker’s little one, it just hits it too fast at the ends of the train to give that really magical upside down moment.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing though as the speed is quite surreal at times, watching it offride brought back memories of Railblazer. It just doesn’t look like the train should be travelling that fast through those elements, it’s unnatural.
It’s a gorgeous ride to look at as well – that blue and white, like a giant Twisted Cyclone with much prettier trains.

There, think that’s all of mine. Let’s take a moment to behold this creation.

In all seriousness though, I loved it. It’s a hard layout to learn even over a few laps – the scream inducing airtime on some of the hills that you forget are even there. The out of control feeling I’ve been missing on some of these things is present in the exit of the first outwards banked turn thing as it twists and throws you down a double down. This bit gave me ‘poorly prepared on Skyrush’ levels of uneven pain into alternate single legs when sitting towards the back. I’ve missed that too.
There’s some pretty vicious laterals out in the overbank near the end that makes it better than your average filler corner and the hills either side of this really kick ass. Possibly the best hill of the whole thing is chucked in right at the end of the ride as well, a wonky little hump hidden in the structure that was also scream inducing. Every time.
Fantastic stuff, well worth the trip.

They decided to add the second train during my second queueing, bumping the wait time up to about 90 minutes. Dispatches did drop to 3 minutes so it was an improvement later in the day, but the queue just grew and grew throughout the morning. Well that’s 2 rides in 3 hours, what else has this place got again?

Took some courtesy laps on the decent stuff around, starting with Steel Dragon 2000. This was operating surprisingly well with its 2 trains. It seems to have lost its limelight within the park for now against the new boy, I wonder if that is just newness or genuine appreciation for a much better ride. Time will tell.

Pretty much how I remember it. The lift is good for the openness on the left side and the way it goes on forever. The drop doesn’t feel like 300ft and isn’t very good. It bounces through the first 2 valleys quite ferociously and there’s absolutely no sensation in either of the big hills. The corners are huge and rather pointless, bit of wind in your face – ‘yeah man, can’t beat that sensation of speeeeeeeed,’ it’s like Fury 325 all over again.
Then it gets fun, awkwardly adjusting itself into the midcourse. Even though it brakes quite hard at this point, the following hills are all decent and seem to go on forever. I imagine it has to have the most consecutive straight airtime hills on any ride in the world and it is pretty joyous for that.
A slight shudder, a ghost from my past, hit me as I stepped onto the exit platform. Getting onto this ride was all too easy this time.

Token lap on my ride. Ultra Twister makes me happy. It’s such a weird and complicated looking death machine but also so simple. How many rides come off of one of their rails every lap just to get through the station? And the fact they had terrifying vertical lifts (and drops) 100 years before anything else claimed fame about it.

Acrobat next. Still as good looking as ever. They were operating the other station today, so that was a novelty. Never together though.
I forgot how intense this thing was. Pretzels are amazing of course, but the turn immediately after was so forceful that, to be graphic, my salivary glands failed me. I spent the rest of the ride dealing with that while it meandered around, never living up to the start again.

Time for the rest of my body to fail me, Arashi is one of the few rides in the world that still scares me. I regret it every time, sitting down in the seat with the rigid restraint uncomfortably biting into my collar bones. Feet dangling as it drags you vertically up. Why did I do this again? Oh no. OH NO. OH… *words gone*. It’s too intense to shout.
The initial moments of it flipping after the lift are like no other ride. It’s so far out of my body’s control that I don’t know what to do with myself. I go into survival mode – all I can do is sit there, hold on and exist through it, hoping to be alive by the end of it. But it’s nothing like SLC survival, it doesn’t hurt, it’s just pure intensity.
I love it anyway. Whether I enjoy it is a different matter.

They’ve got this new shooting dark ride that appeared opposite the whale which I thought was cool, diversifying their lineup a bit. Then I found it was upcharge. ‘Wanna do something other than queue 90 minutes for rollercoasters today? Well you’ve gotta pay for that.’ I still don’t like this park.

Time to calm down on the wheel. The views just got even better.

Would have been riding Hakugei ’til I bleed, but the operations just wouldn’t allow for it. The pain was stronger from the queueing than from the ride, though the waiting did die down a little as the afternoon went on. At least it was amazing enough to keep me there ’til the end of the day. I’d had strong ideas of leaving the park early if things had stayed how they started.
As we learnt from Hershey, always persist.

Day 4

China + Japan 06/19 – Nagoya

Previously on my trip reports:
Challenge time. There’s a lot of smaller parks around Nagoya with not a huge amount going for them, but it’s always fun to see what you can mop up.
With the ‘bigger’ stuff out of the way, there was a few +1s to try and hit up. This was the first, but on arrival it seemed they had given up for the day, with a few locals hanging around just for somewhere to be, but no staff in sight.
Figured this may be a similar case for the other places and called it a day for creds, opting to go to a mall instead. No regrets.’

So after landing in Nagoya again, we picked up where we left off on that day to clean up the rest of the area.

Day 2 – Akashi Park

Oh look, a Ferris Wheel. Hello Japan.

This place was cute, it took a few minutes to work out where the tickets were sold as it didn’t really have an entrance, just a bridge over a road.

#1 Kid’s Coaster Kujira Ku-Chan

You knew that the real whale I wanted to ride on this trip was to this, right? That’s why you’re here, not Hakugei.

A quality piece of engineering.

Kariya-shi Kotsu Jido Yuen

This was the place that was closed by the time we got to it before. It seems to have undergone some expansion since, including some new fairground rides and a new toilet block. Watch out, Six Flags America.

#2 Kids Coaster

Another quality piece of engineering.

And potentially Japan’s cheapest cred at ~£0.36

Sea Train Land

This place was a little more significant than I expected. It had another of those Senyo shooting dark rides as well as a few other attractions, but I’m all burnt out on them.

#3 Family Coaster

Shame the cred is only a Zamperla 80STD. My 7th in as many months.

The park is a bit closer to the city and the day was now over, so felt like jumping on the ferris wheel for a look.

Couldn’t quite see Steel Dragon from here. It’s somewhere after that second bridge on the right but there’s a lot of other weirdly tall stuff in the area.

That was fun.
It really was actually, something so chill about just driving around these little parks with no real cred anxiety.

Day 3

China + Japan 06/19 – Knight Valley

I had some days spare to use in Asia while out in Singapore again and wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. Not enough time to do anything too major, though sadly there aren’t many places left out this way I could do for too long anyway.
With RMC consistently hammering into my rankings over the last 6 months, Hakugei was obviously the most major draw in the region. But it didn’t feel like enough – all that way for one ride… I don’t think I’m quite ready for that stage of the hobby just yet.

Hit some more of China was the other idea, with new stuff up and coming all the time and the odd bits to mop up in between. But they’re so slow in getting things built – rides that spited me over a year ago still not being ready and I couldn’t be arsed with the disappointment again for now.

If I can add one more major coaster to this trip, I’ll be happy.

So I took a gamble on some wood and booked three dirt cheap one way flights.

And in no way did it look like it was going to pay off.

I’ve been spited by Wood Coaster twice before. It’s about my most spiteful ride going. I got as far as the entrance of the park the first time, after 90 minutes on a bus from hell and then being chased down by people trying to sell me plastic buckets and spades for a trip up the mountain. The ticket desk said the coaster was closed. I walked away.
The second time I was in Shenzhen I didn’t bother with all that, just phoned up the park 2 days in a row from somewhere nicer and got the usual stories about “it’s been raining the last few days so… you know… maintenance.” Yeah, I know.

The park website has become more fancy these days and now has details in writing about their extensive maintenance schedules for rides. For the star attraction it says every Monday, every third Thursday of the month, every April (and from personal experience every January or every time there’s sight of rain either before or after that day). In summary, the world’s most closed coaster.
To avoid all that then, we’ll hit it on a Saturday in June.

As the day drew nearer, the weather forecast for the city was just… terrible. 2 weeks of thunderstorms either side of the day I was going. It doesn’t make meteorological sense, but it’s China, so that’s that then.

Day 0 – Arrival in Shenzhen

So I landed with the full expectation of just spending a rainy day in a hotel.

I’m obviously getting too complacent with the whole immigration/entry/getting around system in China because I expected to just walk in the door and get a transit visa on arrival this time.
There weren’t any staff available for this when I got there, so I spent a good hour standing around in ghost town airport waiting for someone to show up at the visa desk while the immigration helpers did their best to avoid eye contact with me following our initial encounter and a couple of other officers at their desks eyed me suspiciously.
I thought the people I was waiting for were gonna be one of the official uniformed looking immigration officers that rocked up with their 7-Eleven instant noodle dinners and disappeared into an office to eat said dinners rather than acknowledging my existence, but it wasn’t them.
Instead what seemed to be some random/normal looking airport staff member appeared while chatting into her phone and asked to look at my passport. She looked at it and walked off again without saying another word to me, still on the phone. Clearly no one knew what they were doing and they don’t get many people doing it this way. I would say I’ve missed this fun, but it already felt like a wasted journey to begin with.
She eventually reappeared with a friend and they bumbled their way through the process over the period of another hour or so, constantly phoning people up, running off to somewhere else in the airport to get information on something, looking up something on the internet or chatting to other officers at the desks.
Eventually I got a stamp and got in. They were gone again before I could thank them for their swift service.
And now the metro is shut for the day. I do love a good taxi.

The faff didn’t end there as the hotel ended up being the first I’ve ever come across in China that doesn’t accept ‘foreign cards’. It’s 2am, give me a break, I want to sleep. This was only a daytrip, so I wasn’t packing enough cash to settle that and do everything I wanted to do the next day but fortunately, as they bluntly told me, there was a cashpoint round the corner. Ugh.

It’s not actually raining though.

Day 1 – Knight Valley

Less than 3 hours later and I’m getting déjà vu from the previous time I was in this city, waking up stupidly early in the morning to check the ‘weather situation’ outside before deciding whether to bother with a 2 hour journey to the park for absolutely nothing. It’s still not actually raining, but I’m too tired to care. Back to sleep.

Still wasn’t willing to commit to the extra journey purely on a whim at this stage, so waited ’til office hours and phoned the number we had had some success with before. No luck, couldn’t get through to a human. Well, I’ve come this far, lets see if I can at least lay eyes on the damned thing this time, open or otherwise. But I ain’t taking that bus again, someone can drive me.
The hotel staff were like “whoa man, don’t do it, that’s gonna cost you £20.” Their opinion was ignored.

It rained the tiniest of bits on the journey over to the park, but otherwise was just lots of low hanging cloud in a regular fashion for a mountainous climate. Game over I thought, they’ll be doing their track walk now and instantly think ‘time to go home’.
Driver bloke was friendly enough to offer his phone number and a return journey once we arrived, as it was a ‘remote area.’ That’s a sound option, I thought. Could be returning in about 5 minutes.

Got to the ticket desk. There was a sign of closed rides up on display, which I don’t even remember existing before, more positive steps? Wood Coaster wasn’t on it. The woman with the tickets re-confirmed this. In we go then.

I think the following walk was my new peak in cred anxiety. I’ve been lied to by staff enough times now to still think it’s not open. I failed to pick up a map so didn’t know where I was going either.

You keep climbing these escalators up the mountain, half of them broken, and still can’t see the ride for about 15 minutes of walking – I expected it to be dominating the hillside, but it’s insignificant in comparison to the size of the resort.
Passed a sign with ride specific opening times. ‘The Wood Coaster is open from 10:00-18:00.’ Is this actually happening?

I joined the queue at 10:00 and there was a bunch of engineers on platform, with the ride making familiar GCI brake noises. It took them another half an hour, but it tested and it opened.

#1 Wood Coaster

Ahhhhhhhhh. It was so good to get on it. That and the ride itself is… so good. I was a little worried as GCI have been a source of minor let downs for my last 2.5 years as well as seeing reports of it having not aged well. But if there’s one GCI out there to rival the mighty Bamboo, it’s this thing.

I got everything I want from one of these – it’s fast, relentless, has buckets of airtime, goes on forever and is aggressive – really, really, aggressive. Perfectly on the limit.

The layout is just majestic. Never mind the station flythrough that due to questionable park operations no queueing guest ever sees, there’s a bloody quad down passing in between the station and the brakerun. It did a Lightning Rod before Lightning Rod and it made me giddy with happiness. I loved everything about this ride so much.

And whose wonderful idea was it to stick a big wooden coaster up here anyway? It did the Wildfire turnaround atop a mountain before Wildfire did. That makes me love it even more.

There was a bit of jeopardy added to the whole experience (which probably heightened it even more) in that the lift hill contained an assault of weird looking moths and other weird and not wonderful flying creatures that would crash into your face or land on you as the train climbs 200ft into a rainforest. Eww. I hate bugs.
I don’t even want to know what those things are doing to you when you hit 60Mph, but I ended up with one inside my shirt that looked like a leech at one point. So much no. But so much yes.
Have some more pics.

Just to tease me a bit further it also rained a little more during a queue for another lap. They made announcements about stopping if it got worse, but it didn’t, so they didn’t. Good for them.

Kinda wish the park ended there, but there was some other stuff to see. Stumbled into what I only knew as discount Waterworld. Sums it up nicely. Wasn’t the most professional of performances, but it was a laugh. The show ended to announcements of “stick around to have a photo with the white man.” Think I’ll pass on that one.

Foolishly followed the crowd out of there into the queue for an underwater ride simulator. Some aggressive announcements were being made about an 80 seat capacity and 30 minute show intervals. It then turned into an old timey bumpkin scrum as the, less refined, guests started pushing and shoving to make sure they made it in to the next show. It’s only the second time I’ve seen this sort of behaviour (the first being that awful tour group at Fantawild Ningbo) so it’s far from the norm, but it is rather disgusting to behold. We didn’t make it to that show and left the queue rather than wait again. I’m sure it was nothing mindblowing.

From there it was a hot and sweaty queue for the cablecar up to the top of the mountain. Things only got sweatier when the greenhouse-rooved portion of the queue became home to two huge hairy moth things that were bigger than my hands. If they end up at Wood Coaster, I’m dead.

Some lovely views up top. Didn’t bother with any of the rides as the queues were too grim.

Did the funicular train back down, it was completely empty in contrast to the cablecar for some reason.

The Bobkart spited me disappointingly, but got what I came for.

Got a friendly staff girl to lend us her phone so we could contact the driver from earlier, as our Chinese SIM had conked out up the mountain. He said 40 minutes. This made an easy excuse for me to have one more lap of Wood Coaster, as the queue was invariably 30 minutes for 30 people.

When he turned up we made an outlandish request to be driven to a mall in the city to get some food rather than straight back to the hotel, at which point he got all mopey saying he wouldn’t have bothered coming back for us if he’d known it wasn’t the full fare. Well thanks.

And that’s it for one long day in China. Seems like a lot of text for one ride. Good times.

Day 2

France 07/19 – Walibi Rhône-Alpes

Day 2 – Walibi Rhône-Alpes

Another scorcher of a day found us caught up with hilarious car park antics in which 50% of the locals would outright ignore the staff directing them into parking spaces and do their own thing, mess it up because it was a tight squeeze, then speed off in disgust only to instantly get stuck behind pedestrians heading towards the entrance.

With that fun out of the way we headed in to the great 40th birthday present that this park decided to give themselves.

#1 Mystic

Mystic is a very pretty ride to be around.

I like the detail of the little cemetery entrance to the area (complete with mist) and the station looks amazing.

Inside is cool as well. The return of the themed bookcase baggage holders. Front of the trains with their voodoo dolls are also a joy to behold.

First impressions in the front of the train were really good. The twisted, almost-vertical drop kicks ass and you’re thrown into a weirdly shaped top hat reminiscent of Lost Gravity.

Only some zero-Gs in the world are beautifully executed. This is one of them.

Then you dive loop past the turntable and station into a weird airtimey banked corner (which is even better backwards).

And up into this ridiculous thing. Perfectly on my limit of upside down-ness to be in hysterics and clapping rather than holding my head and shouting. Love it.

Backwards from there is really cool but a little too short and ends on my only real gripe with the ride in that it brakes a little too harshly on the backwards pass of the turntable. Seems like it would have been easy for it to shuttle back into the dive loop a bit more for that last little kick, but it falls short of that and then you’re done.

Proper good stuff though. Gerstlauer are definitely on the up with these things.

The park was beginning to fill a bit and we only (if we were being sensible) had half a day to avoid another chunnel mishap so it was time to mop up the creds.

#2 Coccinelle

Coccinelle lives on here after Walibi Belgium spited their own. Such a good name for the English to say.

Bypassed the Boomerang queue as it looked deeply unpleasant.

#3 Timber

Straight to the other main event then. First thing I notice upon entering the queue is that the audio shouts TIIIIIIIMBERRRRR! as the train takes the drop. Nice.

Baby Gravity Groups always pack a punch and this one is no exception. Every one of its hills was properly chucking me out of the seat in a joyous fashion and it was nice to see the variety of some little twisty banked ones as well in such a tiny layout.

Problem is that it feels short. Really short. It enters the return run section of the layout and you start to really get into it thinking ‘oh yes, here we go.’ Then it trims in a double down and ends abruptly. Hilariously abruptly. We just burst out laughing at the unexpectedness.

For me, both Twister and Wood Express had that feeling of the ride going on really long for how tiny the drop is, and you admire them for it. Somehow they didn’t manage that here. But the sensations it does give are amazing and potentially the strongest of the three.

Woodstock Express was a sufferance being the longest queue of the day. Turns out I’ve never done one of these Zamperla versions of the standard wild mouse before so that was the slightest of upsides.

#4 Woodstock Express

It’s just a poorly built copy of the standard layout really. The shaping is off in a lot of places and what happened to the usual big airtime at the end here?

The Boomerang queue was now slightly less unpleasant but still very slow and filled with sunburn. They’ve got the weird metal lap bars on this one, but apparently it isn’t done by the same people as the one at Wiener Prater (the one I kinda like).
Instead these are virtually impossible to climb into. I spent the first 15 seconds trying to manouevre my foot in between/over/round the bars while my friend was about to be trapped in the airgate. Makes getting into Colossus look easy.

#5 Eqwalizer

After somehow contorting into the contraption, away we went. It takes more tactical bracing this way – tightly gripping the handles in front to stop yourself falling stomach first into metal and to stop the handles themselves destroying your legs. If you can put up with all that it’s a slightly better Boomerang experience, but it still isn’t really enjoyable. Apparently it was meant to have raving soundtrack like Speed of Sound as well, but it didn’t at this time.

With not long left in our day we thought we had to be a bit tactical with rerides, starting with another go on Timber in the back which was even better. Luckily the queue boards were wildly overestimating and both major attractions had actually quietened since earlier. Either people finish with this place very quickly or it had just got too hot and they had given up/gone to the water park.

So we ended on with several almost walk-on goes with Mystic, which also felt even better in the back. Then on the last lap I got stung in the lip by something while travelling at around50Mph. Worth it.

Sadly it was then time to leave this great little park, which seems really up and coming with their lineup now containing a very solid one-two punch. Could have stayed on them all day, but unfortunately it’s just too remote a location to allow for that with the time we had. Walibi as a chain do seem to know what they’re doing these days.

A grim 7 hour drive followed and then for the first time we actually got put onto an earlier chunnel instead of getting stuck in Burger King for 4 hours. Amazing.
I might just slither again before the year is out.

France 07/19 – Parc Le Pal

The summer chunnel officially became a tradition this year, but we’re having to delve deeper into the country each time to get something notable out of it. Fortunately France seems to be on the up when it comes to good investments recently, so lets check a couple of them out.

Day 1 – Parc Le Pal

For some reason the main road to this park from Calais takes you directly through the middle of Paris, which was less than ideal given the length of the drive. There were wild plans of a more ambitious cred run on the cards, but we arrived already overtired and stupidly hot in the middle of the afternoon and only just about managed to drag our feet into this place.

In anticipation of greater plans (or not wanting to suffer queues in the heat, as previously experienced on July weekends in France) we had also picked up a fastrack deal online as it was only 6 euros on top of entry to skip 6 of the major ride queues. The system was unusual, using a pink plastic wristband that had tear-off tokens – one for each ride. It was a little tricky to do from your own arm, particularly while expectant ride staff are watching you struggle and operations are being held up.

#1 Tigre de Sibérie

Did you know that Reverchon made something other than a spinner? Well here’s one of them. Look at that beautiful B&M inspiring drop entry.

It’s a respectable enough family coaster. More interesting than your standard Vekoma Junior entry.

Good face on the train, asian themed station, what more could you want?

From there we skipped the queue for Azteka, which broke down in front of us. Don’t be spitey Soquet.

Talking of spitey, thought we’d better get the Intamin out of the way. It’s a French clone of Juvelen – Sascha Czibulka’s favourite ride.

#2 Yukon Quad

I like Juvelen a lot. It packs a real punch for the size and target audience. The turns can get really forceful, there’s a couple of whippy transitions and the second launch really grabs and drags you hard.

Yukon Quad doesn’t quite meet the theming standards of the original. The preshow contains only revving noises and smoke rather than statues jiggling their spears.

The outside area looks to be nicer, but doesn’t really manage it on ride. There’s a bit more consistent landscaping throughout with the rockwork and it’s all a lot more accessible for pictures – you can get around the outside of most of the layout. But the rocks are just there, where Juvelen has the archways/pillars and water features that give significant interaction to riders before it becomes a field at the end.

#3 Azteka

We then stumbled back on Azteka the very second it happened to reopen. This park has a good train face game – love this one even more.

It might be my new favourite Soquet (sorry Gaz Express). It moves with a real sense of purpose, it has character and it kicks some ass. The ride starts off bigger than I expected, helixing then hurtling down that first drop. Some forceful and shaky turns follow before a Shambhala style zero-F (Force) hill, rounded off by another helix with square corners. Quality.

#4 Twist

Talking of quality, it time to get the final coaster in the park, a Mack Spinning coaster. I was going to say French Dwervelwind, but this version was built first first, so French Dutch Twist.

It lacks the on-board sound of its twin and we only gave it one opportunity (where Dwervy was only really good in 1 out of 3 attempts), but this one grabbed that single chance and rode very well for us.

Forceful spinning, twisty layout. There’s a fun little lurch in a sharp downwards transition that I haven’t noticed before. It is a bit too short though, ending with a underwhelming sense of abruptness just as you really get into it.

Creds complete, we considered the Disko purely for the sake of fully utilising our wristbands but it had no queue to skip anyway and they aren’t particularly pleasant rides.

Did this instead because it amuses. Didn’t know there were so many of them, my King Kong flat ride count is up to 3!

The water rides were also included in the big 6 rides, so took a courtesy lap on them, skipping the most significant queues of the park due to the weather. It all paid off nicely.

Log flume was short and mostly pointless. Potentially the same as Walygator’s, realising as it sets off that it’s just a bit of meandering before a single drop.

The Rapids was alright. A bit on the tame side and not wet enough for a hot day. The manufacturer, Soquet, didn’t try and channel the spirit of Hafema here sadly.

As it was too hot for more rides, impressed a staff lady with my French and had some ice cream instead.

Then checked out the animals. For normal people, this place is actually more zoo than amusement park.

Too hot for snow leopards. Poor thing.

Too hot for elephants? Probably, they were covering themselves in dust and then trying to topple this tree.

Too hot for more.

And that was Le Pal. Liked it more than I had anticipated from when I only knew it as the park that irked me by getting a Juvelen clone. Nice little place to spend half a day.

Day 2

Belgium + Netherlands 10/19 – Toverland

The second day was much more chilled out and I (temporarily) rediscovered my appreciation for taking it easy on parks. I had some vague plans of picking up a few +1s in the area but the previous day had temporarily put me off that sort of thing. That and it was raining heavily all day.

Day 2 – Toverland

So this place suddenly got lovely.
I wasn’t particularly into the park last time, entering through a warehouse and not being overly enthralled by any of the rides.

The new entrance area looks great (not that these wet pictures taken from under an umbrella will do it justice) and the first few minutes of walking down the path with the new land on the left felt 100 times more like a theme park and shows they’re putting a lot of effort in.

I only really needed the new land so headed straight there first, to be told that both Fenix and Merlin’s Quest were temporarily unavailable. Oh.
Then they looked a bit ashamed and said Dwervelwind was also down. “We recommend you start indoors.”

And that we did. Starting on the world’s nicest looking Bobkart vehicles. I had forgotten how well decorated the queueline was on this thing. The ride itself also seemed to be holding back less on the speed than last time, which had bothered me a bit. Perhaps because it was much quieter.

Took a token lap of Toos Express, foolishly sitting in the front row where the on-ride bell deafens you on every janky corner.

Don’t remember this attraction existing before. There’s a little house and garden to explore, for which you borrow a magic wand that you can point at sensors and set off effects. Great idea for a low key park.

Had a bit more of a mooch round the inside area until I noticed Fenix cresting the lift through a window. Don’t let that bird spite me.

I’ve got to start with praising the queue for this attraction. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I hadn’t really looked into anything about this ride so it completely caught me off guard, particularly for this park. They clearly mean serious business now.
It begins with a dimly lit corridor that gives you that wonderful atmospheric change as soon as you step foot inside it. Dangerously narrow stairs take you down to a room with talking portraits on the walls, telling tales and setting the scene.

I really liked these other magical paintings that had very subtle screen effects bringing them to life.

The park was absolutely dead because of the weather so I had the entire queueline to myself and quite easily got lost in there for a long time exploring every detail. There’s a passing preshow section with projections and an animatronic before you come to the usual left or right split for a B&M Wing Coaster.

#1 Fenix

There is actually a rollercoaster at the end of all that and again the little pre-lift hill scene once you’re on the ride caught me off guard. ‘Come closer. You will not escape.’

I really liked it overall. The 90 degree turn at the top isn’t as ugly as I’d imagined once you see it in person and it gives you a bit of steam with which to enter the inverted drop, that then feels less sluggish than usual, particularly in the back when you get dragged into it.
The bigger hill that follows works very well. I was in defensive mode from the rain and wearing my hood up but it would get ripped off every single time as I went flying over this element. Something about the shape of the track here and the landscape around it as well, makes it feel like you’re taking a huge jump feet first.
The helices are forceful and bouncy, which I’ve grown to appreciate more on these as it just means there’s more momentum involved.
I love the track layout doing a double crossing of the water and the whole aesthetic of it. My only real complaint is that it feels a bit short on ride time. I definitely bonded with Fenix while it tried to destroy me with the weather over many laps.

Over in the boathouse on the far side is the start of Merlin’s Quest. It has a little scene up above it’s own station that contains a good audio statement – ‘Never trust a water dwarf’.
It’s a bit of a slow drag in the boat across the water to get itself underneath Fenix for the main part of the experience, though admittedly amongst nice surroundings.
The indoor section is very well done with some good visuals and potentially the best smell on any ride in the forest section. Again that ends a bit too soon and you spend a lot more of your time drifting all the way back again.

The rest of the day was spent nabbing a few laps of the bigger coasters and dodging the heavier downpours by relaxing in the nice indoor area of the park.

Troy is mostly as I remember. A lot of fun, just doesn’t have a huge amount of significant sensations going on. Even though I had the added bonus of being waterboarded and completely unable to see, it didn’t chuck me around a lot or do anything particularly unexpected. It was running weirdly smoothly and quietly too.

Dutch Twist (Dwervelwind) was also an experience if only for not being able to see. I finally know what it’s like to ride like the Chinese do with your head awkwardly bowed at all times. The result – not comfortable.
On board sound is a plus of course, but I think French Dwervelwind (Twist) rides better.

Didn’t do Booster Bike again as I don’t really like Vekoma Motorbike Coasters and it would have been deeply unpleasant.

A great day overall, much more enjoyable than the previous. Toverland took a massive leap in my books, I completed the legendary set of all B&Ms in Europe and had some great ride experiences too. I look forward to their future.

Not much to report on the way back home. The Chunnel seems to run all too smoothly these days. Feels like it’s building to something terrible one day.

Belgium + Netherlands 10/19 – Bobbejaanland + Walibi Holland

The opening of Untamed at Walibi Holland was very exciting news for Europe and a perfect reason to put together another quick jaunt across the channel. The continent hasn’t had many RMCs yet and seeing a couple more start to appear feels almost overdue now. Of course I had to make the itinerary a little more hectic, cos that’s how I roll. Results may vary.

Did another stupidly early start for the chunnel (<03:00) in order to get to the first park of the day at opening time. Which worked perfectly.
And that was the end of the success.

Bobbejaanland: The Revenge

I had beef with Bobbejaanland. I came here a few years ago on a busy summers day, on which they decided to reduce their opening hours on the spot and then close queues up to an hour sooner than those newly stated opening hours, leaving it to be one of the few parks, perhaps only, that I simply didn’t complete in time.
The rides that I did do, sucked, hard.

#1 Fury

But this new one looks quite nice.

So I was with the masses heading to Fury as the gates opened, got to the entrance in amongst the first 10 people.
To then stand there for an hour, as for some unadvertised reason they didn’t open this ride or Typhoon until 11, so it felt like a bit of a waste of an early start. Queuing an hour to beat the queue.

They’ve changed the quirky voting system on whether the ride goes forwards or backwards from how it was originally set up so that there’s now a split in the station for ‘I definitely want forwards’ or ‘I want to vote’.
I was dead set on getting a backwards ride on my first lap, as I believed it would offer the best experience when totally unexpected, not knowing the layout or what it had to offer.
It didn’t look like it was going to work out as I was the only one in my row to push the button to vote backwards, but the train hit the turntable and turned left. Yes! I punched the air. There was no reaction at all from anyone else sadly.

That launch is pretty punchy isn’t it.
Have to say the ride wasn’t quite what I wanted out of it. I’m on a bit of a high with my Infinities at the moment and this just wasn’t delivering on the same level of interesting sensations.
Backwards was a lot of fun, quite disorientating, but lacked anything really standout or substantial. It just feels like even a single strong kick of airtime somewhere would have given it the edge to go from good to great. Failing that, the final spike could have done something crazy like Mystic to end the ride on a high instead of just being a bit of a vibe killer.

I do like what they’ve done with the new area themed to legends. Typhoon doesn’t deserve to be a legend even with a fresh lick of blue paint, but at least it doesn’t look like a fairground ride any more and it’s a nice idea to have a circular hub of pathway with several ride entrances coming off of it.

While I was waiting away the first hour for that to open, the park had had a chance to fill up a bit, meaning Naga Bay had a bit of a queue. I did it when it was called Dizz and it was weak, so skipped it this time.

#2 Revolution

We got as far as the stairs in the queueline of Revolution on the previous visit before a ton of guests came spilling back down the queue towards us saying it was closed and making Xs with their arms. This time we walked straight on, past all the Virtual Reality faff and got to admire what appears to be the world’s longest roller coaster train.
It’s a silly ride but quite funny. A massive indoor spiral lift leaves you thinking where’s the actual ride section? Then it slithers through a gap in the wall at the top and you do several drops and ~100 left hand turns through a narrow outer shell of the building while strobes go off and make it seem like you’re travelling really fast.

#3 Speedy Bob

Speedy Bob was another ride that got closed in our face half an hour early last visit. They were running it alright today and the ride itself rode butter smooth, almost unnervingly so.
The park was now complete. Only took me 3 years.

Walked past Dreamcatcher. Don’t need that in my life again, let alone with VR added.

Gave Oki Doki (formerly Belgium’s best rollercoaster) a token lap. It has a good little first drop and a refreshing layout.

Did El Paso Special/Bench the Ride(?) There’s several bench rides I’ve done now and I don’t know one is the notorious one.
The guns were potentially the most responsive of their type I had ever come across, which was impressive. The scenery was dated but amusing. Lots of donkeys, no hats.

Also gave Bob Express a token lap. It had a couple more weirdly shaped bits of track and random kicks to it than I remember. It could have done alright in my extensive rank the mine train list, if only it tried a bit harder to be a mine train.

So dogs are allowed on?

Did a forwards facing ride on Fury and pretty much felt the same about it.
Tried for another backwards on the last go, but the system screwed me over. I had a whole row of people pushing backwards this time, then it turned right. Aww.
I think it’s a bit of a cop out that they changed it to be honest, though I am personally glad I didn’t have to stay in the park any longer than planned just to beat the odds and get a taste of each direction if other guests were being particularly fussy about it.

Revenge over.
The car park is here dumb and has no way to flow out in the middle of the day so you have to do an amazing reverse while people are still trying to come in for the first time. Still don’t really like this place. Next?

Walibi was the next stop, and should have been a 2 hour drive.
It actually took over 4 hours because they had decided to close an entire motorway between the two countries, terrible detours occurred, then there was an accident and more terrible detours occurred. It was horrible. I felt every second of it eating into my riding time.

Walibi Holland

The mood didn’t lighten as I hit the roundabout at the entrance to the park, Lost Gravity theme blaring from my speakers to try and get me in the mood. Temporary yellow signs were up directing everyone to park in a field opposite, rather than the usual car park. The detour to get to this field went on for far too long, across several unpleasant surfaces. I do resent when I’ve been charged by a park for the privilege of parking on grass/mud.

An ugly temporary bridge was set up over the road and all the entrance plaza was all funnelled by a long series of 8ft high crowd control barriers, which also looked terrible.

Things didn’t improve inside as cutting through the first indoor section of the park was like walking into a nightclub. This place used to have a certain charm to it, but they seem to have embraced the Thorpe Park youth vibe that in reality no one actually wants to experience.

I don’t remember that top spin looking that ugly, Merlin’s castle looks dumb now it’s covered in graffiti and what the hell is this new area?

#4 Untamed

Oh yeah, that.
Here comes RMC number 10.

I was very happy to see it, but the mood still didn’t lighten as i joined the single rider queue. The water feature out of the middle of the station leaks all over the floor and you have to wade across to the stairs. As soon as I settled in for the wait, 3 blokes join behind me and instantly start smoking directly into my face. This was the trend in pretty much every queue, all night. Ugh.

This may end up sounding a bit negative (what, like the rest of the day so far?), but obviously it’s an RMC and it’s still easily one of best things out there. My top 25 will shortly be adjusted to acknowledge this.
I don’t know whether I should do this one as a blow by blow description of elements or just some overall thoughts. Normally I save the former for something I really fall for and this one just didn’t quite resonate with me.
So let’s put the picky hat on, because I expect perfection from these things nowadays.

It has noticeably weak moments and sections:
The first drop and speed hill are weak, compared to others.
I don’t really dig the first inversion thing. It’s different yes, but it doesn’t do much of anything to the rider. It simply happens around you.
Each of the turnaround sections just aren’t particularly exciting, this inversion is meh and that sideways thing only really works if you’re in the front of the train to get a bit of a kick into it.

What I love is basically the whole second half:
The triple humpy bit that just keeps on giving.
The insane hill section through the structure where everything incoming is well disguised.
The crazy sharp S-bend slither into my favourite of the inversions, which also somehow manages to give you airtime coming out of it.

A mixed bag overall then. Some stuff I love in there, but many bits that just don’t flow well or keep the standard at top level throughout. It never truly kicked my ass with intensity at any particular point and it never gave me that life-affirming moment of contemplation on the brakerun, though I can appreciate that it’s a mighty fine ride.

Talking of mighty fine rides. Ahhhhhhh.
For some reason over the last few years I kept doubting myself on how good I thought Lost Gravity was when it opened.
But no, I am right, it’s stupidly fun.
The first drop and speed hill combo is miles better than Untamed, the middle section is really quirky and enjoyable and then there’s a couple more hills at the end that just shouldn’t be that strong in force. Also it has flamethrowers.
Love it.

Goliath is the only other ride I did that night and it just doesn’t hold up any more.
It’s like a refined version of that stupid Superman one – 90% corners but at least the airtime actually works consistently. Entertaining, but had its day.

I had to pass through 3 scare zones when bouncing between these rides.
I’m no Halloween event expert, but here’s my thoughts anyway:

The tree one by Untamed – A combination of moss monsters with rattles and people dressed like Valka from How To Train Your Dragon 2. Mostly an inconvenience because everyone just stands still in the middle of it with their phones out filming.
Villains(?) – Some villainous looking actors and a small stage where they could stand and creep on guests. Mostly an inconvenience because everyone just stands still in the middle of it with their phones out filming.
The pirate one – I quite liked it. Some nice purple mood lighting, good spooky pirate music and lots of bubbles filled with smoke floating around the area. Actors dressed like pirates, walking like zombies.

But I wasn’t there for that stuff, I was there for Untamed – night rides in particular. That section through the structure is completely in the dark, disorientating and amazing.
Had a few laps with a few painfully long queues. The single rider never worked very well even though they had broken 1 seat on the back of one of the trains which you would think would guarantee a spot every cycle.
Some questionable operations occurred – a group of about 9 people in the main queue started kicking off because they had split up from 2 friends who were in the single rider queue and had actually beaten them to the station.
The proper response to this should be ‘The system doesn’t guarantee a shorter queue mate.’
The actual response? “You make a good point, let ’em through lads.”
When it came to closing the queue, a couple of people that had just managed to make it inside before the staff could chain off the entrance were actually chased down and kicked out – which seemed a bit off/Phantasialand-esque.

So I got what I wanted out of the day, just not in ideal circumstances and Walibi Holland as a park took a massive blow for me.

And that was before the car park happened.
I was kinda expecting it, as getting in to the place was such a faff, but as I cleared the bridge on the way out, hell on earth came into view. A million cars in mud at all angles all trying to merge with each other and leave, completely unable to go anywhere. Horns were going off constantly like a New York traffic jam with everyone shouting and being aggressive.

Luckily, being a late arriver, I was in the left third of the field which is split by 2 routes coming out.
The middle and right thirds were the ones converging, so getting as far as the tarmac was comparatively easy for me. From there it was a slow crawl of at least another hour along the winding back path and out onto the main road.
There’s gotta be a better way to end the day.

Day 2

Finland 08/19 – Linnanmäki

We started with a nice relaxed morning, as in true Scandinavian style the next park didn’t open until 1pm. They’ve got a park and walk scheme recommended by their website which lets you park in this huge and amazing underground cave thing (Tornado station x100) and ‘avoid the traffic’. You validate the ticket at shops in the park and that makes it dirt cheap for the day (3 quid).

Day 2 – Linnanmäki

Headed in and grabbed some wristbands. All the Finnish parks are free entry with wristband options for the rides, which is cool. I like somewhere that acts like a place for people to chill as well as a theme park.

#1 Taiga

We then joined the queue for the main event. Weekend crowds were ok, it took about 15 minutes to get to the station. Peaked at 30.
I didn’t take any pictures, but I like the queue. It has big bird footprints in the floor leading you round certain sections (and out of the shop, back towards the ride entrance).
It starts off down some stairs where there’s some berries on branches just sticking out into the path. Fresh fruit in a queue.
There’s some foresty stuff going on and some switchbacks, vending machines, a big screen with the bird’s face just ominously staring at you before you head back upstairs between modern looking metal fences with holes punched to form the outline of branches.

As you approach the station, there’s a bit of music and announcements which helped us learn how to pronounce the name. ‘Ride the wings of Ty-ee-ga’. Hang on, is it the bird or the forest? Don’t trust you now RCDB.
Still in the habit of calling it Tay-ga though.
There’s a nice big mountainy painting on the wall that encompasses the baggage holders. Into the back seat we go.

Anyway, the ride. Wow.
I knew very little about the layout other than Intamin doing a bit of a Helix. And it blew me away.

First launch is into this counter-intuitively shaped inversion which throws you outwards then hangs you upside down in the weirdest fashion.

It then enters some low corners which produced some crushing positive forces as the day went on, softening you up for the second launch.

The transition into the launch is slightly clunky and for some reason was the only part of the ride which made the back seats rattle a little bit, but only to the point of comedy. I’m sure some people will treat it like a football injury though.
I do love me a rolling launch.

Which kicks you up into this thing, the newest of the oddly shaped tophats. Proper sideways ejector coming out of that one, it’s now stoking memories of my beloved Intamin wings and I’m excited.

Then this happens.
Oh they’re doing stalls now? WTF amazing.
We also affectionately named this Karnan’s tower in the background. Don’t know what it is, but it’s just chilling there.

Wicked contrast of forces into a speed hill from there, then up into the biggest inversion.
And we’re only half done.
It gets all vicious on you now, lots of fast and wild twisty and airtimey transitions that proper chuck you out of your seat in any direction it feels like. Scream-inducing airtime. You know, moments of proper significance, the stuff Taron supposedly does but actually doesn’t (time for everyone to get offended and leave).

The end of this slither thing just hurls you downwards and sideways by the side of the building. Another highlight.

And finally we get beautifully inverted into the brakes, Flying Aces style. Wow again.
That was really long. And so much going on. Absolutely loved it.

#2 Tulireki

So there are other rides here, but they won’t get such affectionately detailed description. Taiga seems to keep photobombing as well.

This world exclusive Mack E-Motion coaster was grim. Don’t know how they managed to make a wild mouse rough in a straight drop, but they did. And it didn’t do anything. Good interaction though.

The powered coaster next door broke down on us, casually reversing itself through the station and valleying at the end of the ride. Later then.

#3 Salama

Salama the spinner was alright. Lots of block sections and not much spinning. I like how it sits atop the rapids. Good interaction.

Ended up on Taikasirkus next. Cute little suspended dark ride about a circus with a catchy song.

#4 Linnunrata eXtra

Indoor coaster with Virtual Reality. Declined the VR (to the locals surprise) and of course it was better for it.
There’s still some spacey theming inside and it packs a bit of a punch for a little custom Zierer.

The Intamin Zacspin then broke down on us. We were dreading it so wouldn’t have been too unhappy if it didn’t reopen.

#5 Vuoristorata

Woodie then. Didn’t expect much as it’s a clone of Bakken’s, but it still has a brakeman and is run much better for it.
Instead of sensors popping and stopping you before each drop, he gives it the beans so there is a little airtime to be found and in the case of the double down, a single moment of wild standing airtime. Respect.

#6 Ukko

No respect for this thing. Don’t like them anyway and this one was really rough when it tore through the station in both directions.

This little witchy dark ride, Kyöpelinvuoren hotelli (hi Taiga) was really good for what it was. It had vibrating seats, a back poke and a duel with Dumbledore. Significant improvement over the previous day.

Jumped on the ferris wheel for some views. What a pleasant afternoon.

#7 Kirnu

Sadly Kirnu was fixed by this stage, jeering at us while we were enjoying the views. Really, really not looking forward to this after Insane gave us nasty headaches a few years back. Loudly swearing in fear as it ascends the lift.
Not in an abusive relationship kinda way with Arashi where you get something out of it. Just this is gonna suck, hard. Stupid hobby.
Thankfully it did what weaker S&S Freespins do in the first half and didn’t manage to flip itself, just lurch around in an unusal fashion. Only that final bit tipped us onto our head and tombstoned everyone, but it was surprisingly manageable. Fear reduced, but damn you La Ronde.

Also fixed was.. .. .. .. Mr…. …. …. …. Powered……

#8 Pikajuna

Sorry, Mr. Powered Coaster.
It was alright. Good interaction again. Coasters complete.

Did this drop tower as I don’t recall doing its type before. Good views and a decent freefall sensation. Not bad.

Jumped on the Monorail for some more views. What a pleasant evening.

I like this place. It lacks the ride lineup of Liseberg, but it’s got the charm.

The night was rounded off by more Taiga laps, before visiting the ticket office and getting cheap ‘bounceback’ wristbands as we were sufficiently hooked had nothing else lined up before a 4pm flight the next day.

Day 3 – Linnanmäki

We drove straight to the door of the park this time for maximum efficiency, parking as close as physically possible to the entrance. There wasn’t really any ‘traffic’ to avoid as hinted towards by the car park deal the previous day. Seemed to be a very quiet city that was pleasant to drive in.

We only had an hour to spend in the park before rushing back to the airport, but 10 laps of the bird. What more can I say.

From here flew directly to Italy. The natural progression from Finland for a Europe trip of course.

Finland 08/19 – PowerPark + Särkänniemi

Finland has been on the back burner for a few years now. Had a little bit of interest, but nothing really worth pushing for. Then Taiga happened.
And now here we are.


The hilariously limited operating season of this place forced our hand on the order events for this leg of the trip, being open on Saturdays only by the end of August.

A bit more funfairy than I was expecting, but we’ll let the creds do the talking.

#1 Junker

Junker was first on the agenda. The look of the park has already improved with the walk under this ride, admiring the interactions. Based on previous experiences this cool looking Gerstlauer Infinity could have been a hit or a miss.

Luckily it’s a hit. Once again they exceed my expectations and knocked out a varied, forceful and fun layout.
The launch on these is a lot better when they don’t awkwardly drop into it and you soon find yourself cresting a weirdly shaped top hat. They seem to be all the rage these days.

This is followed by some decent airtime into the Finnish loop, which I loved. The weird drawn out shape of the inverted section provides some great contrast.
It powered through the mid course without hesitation, kicking ass into the second half which has another couple of great inversions and a twisty airtime hill.

#2 Neo’s Twister

Next was a Fabbri spinner with some anime looking characters on the cars. Used to think these were quite rare but the seem to be popping up on me everywhere now. They’re alright.
Most unique feature is the RCT style right angle in the lift hill and the fact that they free spin on the lift as well. Strong stuff.

#3 Thunderbird

Wood Coaster had recently reignited my love for GCI, but sadly Thunderbird was another very run of the mill woodie experience. Though it tries to do some of the features of the better stuff, it lacked the size to make it effective. It had a nice little straight section of what should have been airtime hills, which they don’t seem to bother with on a lot of their layouts. This wasn’t taken at enough pace to be any good though.

#4 Cobra

Oh good, another Boomerang with weirdly modified trains, just not lap bars. This thing needs no attention.

#5 Mine Train

There was another Zamperla 80STD at the back of the park, but I don’t have a picture of it. So here’s a stock photo of another I’ve done this year, complete with stock name and stock font. There’s more to come too.

#6 Joyride

And rounding off the creds is this thing by L&T. It had upcharge Virtual Reality available. Nope.

The one other thing that was deemed worthy of doing before rerides was this shooting dark ride, Devil’s Mine Hotel.
It’s ‘set off the effects by shooting them’-style, but in a way that you can’t really take any of it in.
Bonus reference points for Yukon Mining though, along with having what looked like a demonised Gruffalo inside.

So there we go. A fairly insignificant park that’s a nice half a day out and well worth the visit on a Finland scale, if only for Junker.

After that success, the rest of the bright Scandinavian evening was now dedicated to:


Park expectations were twisted again, the lineup always made me think eww, no effort, but the place itself has a great little aesthetic with its location in the city by the lake.

#7 Tornado

Talking of lineups, Tornado was meant to be the best thing going. I didn’t have high hopes because the Spanish one sucked.

This one is a massive improvement though. It has presence. The station is underground in this big concrete cave. You enter the air gates and a bright orange train comes screaming through an inversion straight over the top of the station. I love a bit of intimidation framing.

It’s not like really good however, just a bit of fun and a bit of a change of pace. It doesn’t quite have the grace and force of better inverted stuff. The cobra is a bit lame and it barely moves through this overbank turn. The roll in the station and the overall interaction was the highlight for me.

We wanted to get the Volare out of the way, but it broke down in our face. Good.

Then we got lost on the way to the Sky Rocket and ended up at this.

#8 Vauhtimato

Angry Birds themed Zierer Tivoli. Better than Thorpe’s attempt at theming, but still very shoehorned. The train has the same old bug eyes and leaf.

#9 Hype

There it is. Second best one of these I’ve done just for not having comfort collars or shin crushers. They are… quite good for a basic clone. The launch always surprises me with how much kick it has and the trimmed drop out of the top section still packs a punch.
Finland’s frenzy in getting every single compact coaster type with no corners starts off OK.

#10 Trombi

They fixed the Volare. Good.
Never had a massive issue with these despite their reputation. They’re as dumb as they are brutal, but not to any damaging degree and it’s quite funny to endure. It was absolutely flying through the blocks at ridiculous speeds into those sharp corners, with hilarious consequences.

#11 MotoGee

Golden Horse do this layout better, so I’ll let that one speak for itself.

Hated my last one of these. This one was alright. Might depend on where you sit. Launching sideways with a shoulder restraint didn’t seem to be an issue any more.

With all that out of the way, headed up to the upcharge observation deck for some views.

The glass was pretty terrible up here and they’ve closed off the outdoor section due to anti-social behaviour… but here’s a nice overview of Tornado’s layout.

And a bit of Tampere.

Up next – the bird!

Day 2